Monday, May 31:  Harry Potter Day

Bank Holiday, so the laundry was closed, and free Internet access at the library was closed also. And every family from Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and everywhere in between came for a day trip to enjoy the fine weather. Our proprietor’s Greek husband referred to yesterday’s weather as summer trying to push through the Yorkshires. We dilly-dallied as we found places closed, then went to the York Museum for a bit of history on the various Scandinavian occupiers of this region. We also got the history of St. Mary’s Abbey, which was very prosperous until Henry VIII appropriated the wealth of all of England’s monasteries for himself. (Photo 178)

But the real event of the day was the opening of the third Harry Potter movie. I’d secured tickets on-line while in Chipping Camden for the 11:15 AM show, which was the only one not sold out by the time I investigated. The movie opens in the US on Robert’s birthday, so he’d been hoping to see it then, but now was an opportunity, so we seized it. We arrived about 45 minutes beforehand, were about twentieth in line. After about 30 minutes in the warm sun, we were let in and got great seats. The movie was good, and the opening scenes in London included many spots we had seen a week or so ago, such as bridges across the Thames and Kings Cross Station. I especially liked the scenes with the dementors, and Robert said his favorite part was “the whole thing.” (Photo 174)

Lunch was at Pizza Hut, in a feeble attempt to economize. Then we went back to finish the unseen parts of the archaeological museum. From there we went across the river to the National Railway Museum to witness Britain’s love affair with the steam locomotive. I was almost tempted to take up train-spotting. Saw the train that set the steam traction speed record in 1938 at 138-some miles per hour, a replica of the revolutionary “Rocket” from the early 1800’s, and some huge steam engines, one in particular manufactured in just 1960.

We learned later that evening that the museum had just acquired the Flying Scotsman, the first steam engine to break the 100 mph barrier. The Americans (damn them and all their attempts to buy up the history they don’t have) were bidding hard for it, but in the end, Branson, CEO of Virgin, stepped in and won the day and the 3 million bid did it. The train was to make a run into York, just in time for the 9-day “RailFest” (which we didn’t pay extra for), but broke down. Instead, they hauled out the Wizard Express, the steam engine that portrays the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies and it carried all the VIPs into York.

I returned to the room and David and I picked up my computer to return to the one Internet shop in town. We had stopped in after lunch and they had said it would be no trouble plugging in my Mac. By 5 PM though, the gal on duty was totally computer ignorant (“I can barely make the coffee!”) and once I found a jack, the connection wouldn’t come. Just another of the continuing annoyances of life on the road. Did some webmail anyway, and learned that once again VISA is suspicious about the recent activity on our card. (Last four transactions: $300 opera dinner in Paris, $300 theatre tickets in London, $200 theatre tickets in Stratford, $200 autopay electric bill in Gig Harbor. Doesn’t everybody’s VISA bill read like that?) Another annoyance. Back at the B&B I finally got a telephone connection to go and got it straightened out.

Dinner was at one of Rick’s recommendations, the Viceroy of India. Robert liked it, David cooperated, and Pat and I had an excellent meal. For the walk home at dusk, we gained the city wall ramparts through Monk Bar and traversed about 20% of the perimeter around to Bootham Bar near our place, always with the Minster in view (Photo 176).